Movie Review: ‘Moonlight’ (2016)

Review by lou.

Moonlight is a resplendent cinematic wonder that is a feast for the eyes, yet a breathtaking torment for the spirit to endure so blissfully. There’s just something attached to every photograph that enables itself to allure so hypnotically that, you just can’t take your eyes off of it for the visuals expressing its lyrical structure satiate the senses from the artful sensitivity. Undoubtedly, Barry Jenkins’ sophisticated sheen gleams so brightly. The it’s sincerity that he exerts rustles in deep resonance.What he achieves here is something of an urban drama tongued with exquisite taste that headily touches on black culture, and the members of its society whose tales of splendorous struggles are kept in the dark. His genius exposes a soaring excellence wins the sympathies of audiences and critics alike – sheltering them in a world built only in authenticity, and nothing more than that. Looking at it in face value, still, there is never a pretentiousness that sticks out, nor is there a message conveyed that could be found artificial and conformed – only truth and truth alone is what filmmaker Barry Jenkins puts at the helm, and a most beautiful film that doesn’t come every once in a while is what you’ll get to encounter.

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Drawing its picture with an opening scene that takes its context to a different area midway, through a moment that parallels and gives more meaning to everything else, it immediately alarms and disarms whatever we have within ourselves. Journeying through a life of pain in three acts containing affecting moods that it stimulates through its technical wonders as well as its quiet explosions – all of which shocks and sweeps us away to see how much we would break. His story submerges his travails in a manner that gets us feeling the rough texture of the world that he walks on, and emphatically makes known the pain that cripples his desires by a connection that binds him to our empathy. Racial constructs that shape the black culture and its society surround the life of Chiron, our main character, and they act very much like a monster with a torturous intent to chain him in confines that grounds him in a nightmare that he can’t put up with – or at least that is what it wants us to see.

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Growth that culminates in a society so cruel and insensitive is seen to bloom so bleakly in him, and how we see and analyze the way his broken mind influences the way he acts, responds, and moves in a world that shapes his unwanted identity breaks our hearts right in front of us. Three actors depict Chiron at three different stages of his life, and all of them give off something that makes them distinctive from each other in terms of revealing manipulative facial expressions and silent, devastating gestures that when conjoined, builds a singular effort with a might that is simply too powerful and competent enough to deem as just mere performances as they navigate us to trace the roots of a life not well lived, basked in forcible conformity and ultimately doused in haunting anguish.

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Each act leaves something to eternally treasure, and in the first of the three, we get introduced to its perfected crafts that open up his world through an exploration that reflects of reality, and by it, our perceptions are left with an effect later on by the wondrous narration of the themes that accentuates from one another – namely, the motifs of discovery, love, and identity. Love, a central matter is what dictates its main character’s course – be it of a mother’s, desired parents’ or a friend’s, it tells of it in such a way that is miraculously real, and unrelentingly powerful. The love of a friend is what veils the film’s outstanding second act, and what it is turns into a ruminating memory that is written all over with compassion inspired by experience. What follows next, in the third act, intensifies the aching, and wraps up the journey with a finale that gives a tender hug – wrapping up the voyage with a farewell that feels so classic; solidifying this trilogy of chapters of a man’s life that uncontrollably teems with grace and fidelity that basically makes the film as a whole, a landmark of modern American cinema that is of a singular persona.

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Their division in three chapters make them out to look like raw footage, albeit with esthetics so dreamily magnetic that they show the beauty that hides underneath their agonies in a way that makes us feel what needs to be felt. If anything else, they are video recordings of one’s life taken out, and compiled into a film to speak out for what’s real, and convince us to heed what’s true – artistically declaring statements enveloping sorrows apparent in reality that it makes so recognizably identifiable; getting us to feel responsible for this heinous, unjust crime that humanity carelessly fires at itself which allows for the invisible to step forward out of the shadows. Music is also instructed to act as company for the visuals to harmonize with, and together, they bring out the immensity of the film’s depth that gives every detail a quality that seduces, and could very well be likened to a ballad of depressive misery sung with weeping passion and immeasurable splendor.

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Purifying its heart in a pool of honesty, director Barry Jenkins brings the ghetto to the cinema with a light tinted in hues of blinding artistry that is rarely seen in the common envisioning of a struggle that is impossible to grapple with. Almost all of the grittiness that we usually see gets cleansed, and paves the way for its own sublimity with unrestrained elegance to trudge on instead of adhering to a brooding brutality to majestically embody what it symbolizes. The film purely consists of African-American actors that lifts it all up to a peak that manifests of its prime, and they, in particular, Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris, are astonishing in their respective roles that magnificently contrast one another – realizing personal intimacies that rends apart and mends, and furthermore heaving the stellar nature that gusts through its cold, alarming screenplay.

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What is brought to modern cinema with Moonlight is a genuinely 21st century, eye-opening, shattering sensation of depth – a provocatively written coming-of-age indie drama endearingly engendering a rawness too sincere, a behavior so expressive, and a universality so commanding that, one sitting is enough to take in all of its painstaking brilliance that vividly presents to us a story baring the unbearable evils and conflicts bore innately in culture and society depressingly affecting those living a life hidden in plain sight. Pridefully, it boasts a cast populated with actors/actresses of color, and for a film inclusive of them, debates whether it is deserving of any critical acclaim or not are inevitable to occur. To argue with conviction, taking it as an Oscar-bait type of picture is a mistake too grave to forgive, and a sinful one nonetheless as it solidifies where it stands firmly. It doesn’t oblige itself of claiming accolades, and only does what feels right to swing its point home, and hard with severe austerity – leaving a genuinely stinging wound that is hard to recover from, for the spiritual and conscious elation and unease gives emergence to a revolutionary and unparalleled art piece that will be just as relevant tomorrow as it is now.

Rating:

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Teaser Poster Revealed for “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”

Universal Pictures has just launched the teaser poster for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the highly anticipated sequel to the blockbuster hit, Jurassic World.

The poster sports the tagline, “Life finds a way.”

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Directed by J.A. Bayona (Mama, The Impossible), Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom opens in the Philippines in June 2018 and stars Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jeff Goldblum, Toby Jones, James Cromwell, BD Wong, and Rafe Spall.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Cinema One Originals’ Wacky Flick “Slumber Party” Hits SM Cinemas Starting June 23

Relive the misadventures of three gay BFFs on their crazy sleepover fun in the Cinema One Originals riotous comedy film “Slumber Party” as it hits Cine Lokal in selected SM Cinemas nationwide starting June 23, 2017.
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The humorous flick is among the featured presentation of Cine Lokal in support to the LGBT Pride Month celebration this June. Cine Lokal is a project of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) in partnership with SM Cinema aiming to give filmmakers a venue to showcase more entertaining yet relevant titles to the mainstream audience.
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Set in 2010, the movie is about long-time friends on a sleepover vigil to watch a much-awaited international beauty pageant, and who are about to be challenged with their greatest adventure yet. Their supposed fun get-together changes when a male trespasser, a wannabe frat boy, sneaks into the house and opens up unforeseen pursuits.
Markki Stroem, RK Bagatsing, Archie Alemania, Sef Cadayona and Nino Muhlach star in this feel-good film written and directed by Emmanuel Dela Cruz.
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Don’t miss this special Cine Lokal program presentation by FDCP and SM Cinema. Make your way to the Slumber Party from June 23-29 at SM Mall of Asia, SM North EDSA, SM Megamall, SM Fairview, SM Southmall, SM Bacoor, SM Iloilo and SM Cebu with the following schedule:  1:00PM 3:30PM, 6:00PM, and 8:30PM. Like Cinema One on Facebook at facebook.com/Cinema1channel for more updates.

Movie Review: ‘Ang Pagsanib Kay Leah Dela Cruz’ (2017)

Disclaimer: Make sure that you’ve seen the film first before heading into this review as some certain statements may give out some plot points.

Review by lou.

A troubled cop named Ruth has just moved into a small town when she witnesses a young girl named Leah jumped out of her balcony. Gossip is spread and suspicions are raised as to why it happened and who should be blamed. Fingers are pointed at the nanny, Rosario and the guidance counselor, Sis. Eloiza, who were seen performing suspicious acts to the young girl. As Leah’s odd behavior escalates and Rosario dies a gruesome death, Ruth jumps on the case and scrambles to put the pieces together. However, the investigation takes a darker turn when Leah’s possession is revealed and sinister connections between the people closest to her come bubbling to the surface. Soon, the devil’s influence takes hold of not just Leah but also Ruth and everyone else around her.

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Don’t be fooled by its title, and don’t worry much neither. Ang Pagsanib Kay Leah Dela Cruz, while sounding cheesy to some, considering the bad rap that modern Philippine horror cinema has gotten recently, actually abstains from being one to stay away from. It is touted to be an initial offering of Kamikaze Pictures, and is produced by Erik Matti of Seklusyon, and so, expectations are wanting to be built up, and fortunately, they are met with decent results. At the beginning, you could still pinpoint its similarities to its blockbuster superior from the way the narrative unfolds up to its characters’ traits, giving a sense of familiarity.

Still, you can already tell that it’s a good start despite having to live up to what is expected of it because it gives what is there to bite into as early as possible. Sarah Lahbati’s reclusive Ruth is introduced to us as an off-duty cop who returns to work for a case involving a mysterious, gruesome murder, and as that happens, our interest for the plot revolving around her arises as themes regarding the presence of evil comes to play with our minds. With that, it goes on to show its ways – relying on the technicalities and thematic tension to deliver scares that would make your heart beat when it frighteningly asks you to, albeit intermittently.

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This all comes out as a wonderful surprise with one stand-out sequence that makes the most out of what it’s got – appealing cinematography and a chilling musical score, and it continues to get those two to work in several scenes that follow. Traditionalists may find them as off-putting, considering some jump-scares, but surprisingly, they don’t pose as cheap thrills just for the sake of having such. Rather, director Katski Flores ensures an atmosphere of eeriness is brought in tow to fill up the screen for the horror to work, even if they usually fail to satisfy. It’s an appreciable and justified move when you witness it all on film, and it’s in those minutes where you realize that it really isn’t as bad as it looks like.

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Since we are all aware that horror movies about possession are generic, it’s good to see that this one goes on to be somehow different, without having something to totally emulate in how it moves. Being the creator of the story, Erik Matti’s guiding presence is felt every once in a while, even if he doesn’t come through most of the time. Almost as if he handled it to be Seklusyon‘s less talented twin brother, he comes up with lines and plot points that desire to resound with its viewers. Their essence sticks for a while as they enable you to think while you watch, but in all reality, they are forgettable and almost powerless. Why this happens is a question whose answer lies solely in its (restrained) ridiculousness, seen prominently in the climax where the tone gets a little odd, going for a grim route while looking goofy with everything that goes on.

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It wants to make you feel afraid, which in some cases has you freaking out, but yet, it’s quite easy to see the flaws undermining its potential – mostly those concerning its treatment of themes that might just drive you crazy. Certainly, improvements could’ve been done for it to not settle with a second and third act that just couldn’t keep up with the rather strong opening minutes, because even if the engaging mystery swells up, it just won’t get you hooked. As a whole though, Kamikaze Pictures’ initial offering is effective – Ang Pagsanib Kay Leah Dela Cruz is a startling horror film about the devil inside every one of us that will have you re-evaluating those around you. It is provocative and disturbing all at the same time.

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Shy Carlos oftentimes, will creep you out with the small terrors that she embeds in her character’s look, but it’s the malicious entity that makes the show half a success in what it wants to leave us with, knowing and seeing that evil lurks everywhere in everyone. Thinking about that thought alone is scary enough, but seeing its form and the implications of its powers will amplify your fear and give understanding about the devil itself on some level. That is why despite the flaws erring its entirety, it could be seen as the spiritual successor to Seklusyon – not only because of Matti’s involvement, but rather due to its intellect that keeps its scariness up and running; all the more reason why it deserves to be given a try.

Rating:

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From the creators of the blockbuster movie, Seklusyon, Ang Pagsanib Kay Leah Dela Cruz opens in cinemas on June 28, 2017.

Explore the Dark World of Exorcism in “The Possession Experiment”

Starring Bill Moseley, the man who played Chop Top in Tobe Hooper’s 1986 sequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 and the hillbilly killer Otis in Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects, The Possession Experiment isn’t short on actors who has experience in horror films.

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Moseley will play Father Mark Campbell, the priest who will be the film’s icing on the cake. He and director Scott B. Hansen had already worked together in the American slasher film Texas Chainsaw 3D where Mosely plays Drayton Sawyer and Hansen was still in the Camera and Electrical Department back in 2013.

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In the film, Brandon (Chris Minor) has always been drawn to the supernatural, so when asked to pick a topic to base his final world theology class project on, he decides to explore the dark world of exorcisms.

Teamed up with three classmates, the group is lead to investigate a multiple homicide that they eventually discover was an exorcism gone horribly wrong. Brandon becomes obsessed with the event, and in a strange turn of events, decides the only way to research this topic is to undergo an exorcism himself. He starts a fundraising online campaign that goes viral overnight…

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Since its release on Digital HD and On Demand December 2016, it was in the top 10 of horror for six (6) weeks.

“It’s a triumph for horror films everywhere made on a marginally smaller budget, truly awe inspiring. It’s scary and unpredictable. It’s clever, frightening and enthralling. And, more than anything else, it’s the best, most perfect representation of demonic possession that I’ve seen in all my years of reviewing,” says Horror Society.

The Possession Experiment opens in Philippine cinemas June 21 from Rafaella Films International. Rated R-16 by the MTRCB.

New “Annabelle: Creation” Trailer Heralds New Chapter in The Conjuring Universe

In Philippine cinemas starting Thursday, August 23, Annabelle: Creation has David F. Sandberg (Lights Out) helming the follow up to 2014’s hugely successful Annabelle, which scared up nearly $257 million at the worldwide box office during its run in theaters. The new film is once again being produced by Peter Safran and James Wan, who also partnered so effectively on The Conjuring movies.

In Annabelle: Creation, several years after the tragic death of their little girl, a dollmaker and his wife welcome a nun and several girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home, soon becoming the target of the dollmaker’s possessed creation, Annabelle.

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Sandberg directs from a screenplay by Gary Dauberman, who also wrote Annabelle. The film stars Stephanie Sigman (Spectre), Talitha Bateman (The 5th Wave), Lulu Wilson (Ouija: Origin of Evil), Philippa Coulthard (After the Dark), Grace Fulton (Badland), Lou Lou Safran (The Choice), Samara Lee (The Last Witch Hunter), Tayler Buck in her feature film debut, with Anthony LaPaglia (TV’s Without a Trace) and Miranda Otto (Showtime’s Homeland, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy).

Annabelle: Creation is a New Line Cinema presentation, an Atomic Monster/Safran Company production. The film will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Ninjas Assemble in “The LEGO Ninjago Movie” Main Poster

Find the Ninja within ya in the main one-sheet art of Warner Animation Group’s The LEGO Ninjago Movie, a new animated adventure in Warner’s LEGO franchise.

Take a look at the poster below and watch the film in Philippine cinemas starting September 27, 2017.

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In this big-screen Ninjago adventure, the battle for Ninjago City calls to action young Lloyd, aka the Green Ninja, along with his friends, who are all secret warriors and LEGO Master Builders. Led by kung fu master Wu, as wise-cracking as he is wise, they must defeat evil warlord Garmadon, the Worst Guy Ever, who also happens to be Lloyd’s dad. Pitting mech against mech and father against son, the epic showdown will test this fierce but undisciplined team of modern-day ninjas who must learn to check their egos and pull together to unleash their true power.

Jackie Chan (Kung Fu Panda) stars as Master Wu; Justin Theroux (Magamind 2) is Garmadon; Dave Franco (Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising) plays Lloyd; and Olivia Munn (X-Men: Apocalypse) is Lloyd’s mom, Koko. Making up the secret ninja crew, Fred Armisen (SNL) voices Cole; Abbi Jacobson (Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising) plays Nya; Kumail Nanjiani (Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates) is Jay; Michael Peña (Ant-Man) is Kai; and Zach Woods (Silicon Valley) voices Zane.

The LEGO Ninjago Movie marks the feature film directorial debut of Charlie Bean (Tron: Uprising). It is being produced by Dan Lin, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and Roy Lee, who previously collaborated on the worldwide box-office phenomenon The LEGO® Movie, along with Maryann Garger (“Flushed Away”). Chris McKay, Seth Grahame-Smith, Jill Wilfert, and Keith Malone are serving as executive producers. The screenplay is by Hilary Winston & Bob Logan & Paul Fisher, story by Kevin Hageman & Dan Hageman and Hilary Winston & Bob Logan & Paul Fisher, based on LEGO Construction Toys.

The LEGO Ninjago Movie is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Warner’s and Legendary’s Monsterverse Kicks Into Gear as the Next “Godzilla” Feature Gets Underway

BURBANK, CA, June 19, 2017 – Following the global success of 2014’s “Godzilla” and this year’s “Kong: Skull Island,” comes the next chapter in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ cinematic MonsterVerse: an epic action adventure that pits Godzilla against some of the most popular monsters in pop culture history.

The film, which begins principal photography today, is being directed by Michael Dougherty (“Krampus”), and stars Oscar nominees Vera Farmiga (“The Conjuring” films), and Ken Watanabe (“Inception”) and Sally Hawkins (“Blue Jasmine”), both reprising their “Godzilla” roles; Kyle Chandler (“The Wolf of Wall Street”); Millie Bobby Brown (“Stranger Things”) in her feature film debut; Bradley Whitford (“Get Out”); Thomas Middleditch (HBO’s “Silicon Valley”); Charles Dance (HBO’s “Game of Thrones”); O’Shea Jackson Jr. (“Straight Outta Compton”); Aisha Hinds (“Star Trek Into Darkness”); and Golden Globe nominee Zhang Ziyi (“Memoirs of a Geisha”).

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The new story follows the heroic efforts of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch as its members face off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah. When these ancient super-species—thought to be mere myths—rise again, they all vie for supremacy, leaving humanity’s very existence hanging in the balance.

Dougherty directs from a script he wrote with Zach Shields. The film is being produced by Mary Parent, Alex Garcia, Brian Rogers and Thomas Tull, with Barry H. Waldman, Zach Shields, Yoshimitsu Banno and Kenji Okuhira serving as executive producers and Alexandra Mendes co-producing for Legendary.

Behind the scenes, Dougherty’s creative team includes director of photography Lawrence Sher, whose past credits include “War Dogs” and “Godzilla,” for which he handled additional photography; production designer Scott Chambliss (“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” “Star Trek Into Darkness”); editor Roger Barton (“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” the “Transformers” films); costume designer Louise Migenbach (the “X-Men” and “Hangover” films); and Oscar-winning VFX supervisor Guillaume Rocheron (“Godzilla,” “Ghost in the Shell,” and part of the Oscar-winning team behind “Life of Pi ”).

Filming is taking place mainly in Atlanta, Georgia. A presentation of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, the film is currently scheduled for release in March 2019, and will be distributed in 3D and 2D and in select IMAX theaters by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, except in Japan, where it will be distributed by Toho Co., Ltd.

Meet the Characters of “Ang Pagsanib Kay Leah Dela Cruz”

Kamikaze Pictures, a joint venture between VIVA Films and Reality Entertainment, proudly present Sarah Lahbati and Shy Carlos in leading roles in the haunting movie coming out this June, produced by the award-winning director Erik Matti, and directed by Katski Flores.

A troubled cop named RUTH has just moved into a small town when she witnesses a young girl named LEAH jumped out of her balcony. Gossip is spread and suspicions are raised as to why it happened and who should be blamed. Fingers are pointed at the nanny, Rosario and the guidance counselor, Sis. Eloiza, who were seen performing suspicious acts to the young girl. As Leah’s odd behavior escalates and Rosario dies a gruesome death, Ruth jumps on the case and scrambles to put the pieces together. However, the investigation takes a darker turn when Leah’s possession is revealed and sinister connections between the people closest to her come bubbling to the surface. Soon, the devil’s influence takes hold of not just Leah but also Ruth and everyone else around her.

Meet the characters:

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Ruth (Sarah Lahbati) is a reclusive police officer reeling from the death of her younger brother when she witnesses Leah jumped from her balcony. After Gabriel, Leah’s childhood friend begs for her help, she joins the investigation and pieces together the tangled web of evil lies and secrets kept by those around the young girl.

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Leah (Shy Carlos) is a seemingly innocent young girl from a small quiet town. But all of this is brought into question when she begins to act in strange and unexplainable ways, causing harm to those around her. She grows fearful and helpless as the events around her get out of hand until finally, the devil takes over her.

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Gabriel (Julian Trono) is a lighthearted, charming teen who likes to cheer people up. He is childhood friends with Leah and has deep affections for her. But when he finds out about Leah’s dark secret, he takes it hard and it breaks him completely.

Rosario is a loyal maid to the Dela Cruz household. She loves Leah like her own daughter but her dark, troubled past catches up to her, leading to very dire consequences.

Marite is Leah’s mother. She blames Rosario’s superstitions and her husband Oscar’s shortcomings for what happened to Leah. But what she doesn’t realize is that she too contributed to the maelstrom leading to Leah’s possession.

Oscar is a kind and loving father to Leah but a domineering husband to Marite. His frustrations with his wife are born out of rumors he has heard about her which he eventually finds out are all true.

From the creators of the blockbuster movie, Seklusyon, Ang Pagsanib Kay Leah Dela Cruz opens in cinemas on June 28, 2017.

Sarah Lahbati and Shy Carlos Face Demons in “Ang Pagsanib Kay Leah Dela Cruz”

Kamikaze Pictures, a joint venture between VIVA Films and Reality Entertainment, proudly present Sarah Lahbati and Shy Carlos in leading roles in the haunting movie coming out this June, produced by the award-winning director Erik Matti, and directed by Katski Flores.

Ang Pagsanib Kay Leah Dela Cruz shows Sarah as Ruth, a reclusive police officer who moves into the hometown of a seemingly innocent young girl that is Leah, played by Shy Carlos. Ruth is still reeling from the death of her younger brother when she witnesses Leah jump out of a balcony. Gabriel, Leah’s childhood friend, begs Ruth for help, prompting the latter to join the investigation.

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Naturally, there are suspicions as to why Leah committed such act. Blame is put on two people. One is Rosario, a loyal maid to the Dela Cruz household who loves Leah as her own. She has a strong belief in superstitions. The other is Sister Eloiza, a school guidance counselor who once belonged to a cult but became a confidant to Leah.

As Leah’s odd behavior escalates, so does the friction between her parents Oscar and Marite. Oscar is a kind and loving father, but a domineering husband, while Marite has been an object of rumors in their small town.

Holding a secret that should be a big help to the investigation is Father Lucas, the local parish priest, but something is keeping him mum about it. The investigation takes a darker turn when Leah’s possession is revealed and sinister connections between the people closest to her come bubbling to the surface. Worse, the devil’s influence becomes widespread.

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While this is Sarah and Shy’s first movie collaboration, this is not their first time to star in a horror movie. Shy was seen in Chain Mail in 2015, while Sarah was seen in a 2010 supernatural film from another movie outfit.

Prince of the Dance Floor Julian Trono playing as Gabriel, Jim Paredes as Father Lucas, and respected theater actors in supporting roles make this movie even more exciting.

From the creators of the blockbuster movie, Seklusyon, Ang Pagsanib Kay Leah Dela Cruz opens in cinemas on June 28, 2017.